21 11 / 2012
On the eve of the US tradition of Thanksgiving, we find we are thankful for a long list of things at Khan Academy. Besides being especially thankful for the opportunity to work on impacting the world of education and many intangibles like witty and wonderful coworkers, we’re also pretty jazzed about our new office, which is proving to be an awesome environment for collaboration and innovation.
As noted in the original post about our new office, we were eagerly anticipating upgraded furniture, especially after living on liquidated furniture and IKEA furnishings that served us well til now. However, the wait is no more; and as such, we share a few pictures to journal the furniture transition, which was as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1. We pack up our belongings (here, Jason demonstrates the artistic beauty of the final IKEA desk in full use)
2. Old desks move out as we store our belongings in the luxurious blue tape accommodations available
3. Voila, the new desks move in and are christened by Michael! That’s right, significantly more desk space plus standing desks and ergonomic chairs to ensure that we’re taking care of our bodies. Hey yo, high five Michael!
For those celebrating Turkey Day tomorrow, Happy Thanksgiving! We hope tomorrow is filled with smiles and thankful thoughts (regardless of whether you are celebrating). For us, the simple things like being able to work at providing a free education for anyone, anywhere make every day a day to give thanks. A holiday about giving thanks is a good reason to remind ourselves of that.
02 11 / 2012
It’s been just about two years since Khan Academy brought on its first non-Sal employee, and after a handful of office moves and making do with spaces that we outgrew too quickly, Khan Academy is in a new spacious Mountain View home. Over the weekend, Khan Academy moved out of its cozy startup digs to its first proper office. But it ain’t no regular office. With high ceilings, skylights and sails, it feels more like a ship; appropriate for our team where “Shipping beats perfection” is core to our culture. Perhaps we will start using sailing terminology soon - as soon as Captain Jace gives us a lesson. The greenery outside also gives way to a treehouse feel - like you are outdoors and indoors at the same time.
Michael (waving in the picture above) did a lot of the heavy lifting (literally) to get us into the new space. Not only would he blush at being featured in this post, but he did an incredible job from finding the space to packing the boxes and everything imaginable in-between. We are doing an iterative move so more furniture and upgraded desks and chairs are expected to arrive in coming weeks. In prior offices, we got by mainly on liquidated furniture and IKEA set-ups as we were moving around a lot and wanted to be prudent about how we were spending donations. However, we’re investing in our new place with nicer facilities, as our employees are our secret sauce, and good set-ups mean they can be happier, and if they are happier, even more passionate about their role in the world of education - and passionate people generally tend to be even more productive.
So far, we are enjoying this seemingly immense amount of space for our small team and team members Maureen and Marcia were quick to make their mark on our chalkboard walls and add our own flare to the place.
I think Matt’s expression sums up our feelings about the new space appropriately
As an homage to Khan Academy’s PRIOR homes, here are a few of our favorite pictures from those spaces:
The first office was classic Sal (the one you see in most news stories…)
We enjoyed high-tech adjustable chairs (or rather, Marcia’s silly side)
And we savored rooftop meetings
…and rooftop picnics! (heart)
Our next office brought cubicles, which didn’t particularly suit us. However, it was very temporary and we tried to think outside the box…
…or outside the balloons…
Indian-style worked best for company tech talks (yup that’s John Resig presenting a VERY early prototype of our CS platform, and Vi Hart’s feather in the back)
Then we moved again and upgraded to chairs and a few rounder options for such discussions
Even in tight quarters, game nights always were given appropriate space.
And we can’t forget Toby! (The awesome artwork behind Bilal and Maureen is the artistry of Maureen and Vi Hart)
01 11 / 2012
At Khan Academy, we celebrated Halloween as well as Marcia’s birthday today with a MARCIAN INVASION – several of us dressed up as either Marcia and/or as Martians.
Here are the Marcians, most of whom wore skirts except for Marcia herself:
Here are a few other awesome Halloween costumes that people brought today – here’s Maureen, as her dog Toby (our Director of Wellness):
Craig, as Beaker:
And Joel, as Iron Man:
Happy Halloween from all of us at Khan Academy!
21 10 / 2012
This fall, we are reaping a wonderful bounty of Khanniversary gifts, the wonderful tradition of giving the office a gift on your start date. It feels like Christmas is coming early this year:
- Maureen showed her dedication to KA by getting a Khan Academy logo tattoo’ed on her neck. Sal gasped at this display of loyalty. While jaw-dropped, Maureen casually mentioned that she wanted to support us all in getting tattoos. Turns out it was a very real looking temporary tattoo, and she did indeed get plenty of temporary tattoos to share!
- Tom made our ice cream social dreams come true with an ice cream maker for the office! He also got a head start on the ice cream making by loading up our freezer with a few batches ready for consumption.
- Bilal gifted a super swank apple corer + slicer. We all ooh’ed and aah’ed at the live demo. The apples in the office all promptly disappeared.
We are fortunate to have such thoughtful teammates, and are grateful they like us enough to share such fun gifts!
14 9 / 2012
While growing up, Haagen-Dazs was my mom’s ultimate dessert treat - the delicious decadence of velvety smooth ice cream. Mmm… So as an avid ice cream lover myself, I was pretty psyched when I heard that my fellow teammate Jason was offering Haagen-Dazs sessions anytime someone needed ‘em. Jason is a cool guy, so ice cream time with Jason seemed like a pretty sweet deal. Who doesn’t need ice cream therapy?
I soon discovered that it wasn’t actually ice cream time…but rather, Jason, our Lead Designer, was offering ”Hired Gun for Design” sessions or HGDS for short. In these sessions, anyone on the team can schedule a quick session with Jason to get his expert design perspective on product issues. ”H-G-D-S” didn’t really roll off the tongue for developer Marcia Lee, so she dubbed them Haagen-Dazs sessions, and the name stuck.
All ‘n all, Jason IS pretty awesome and the name has permeated our culture fabric so well, Shantanu and Sal now hold SHaagen-Dazs sessions. While the sessions induce too many ice cream cravings, they do lead to incredibly valuable brainstorming and feedback, and are now a core part to developing thoughtful learning experiences while holding true to our “Shipping beats perfection” philosophy.
So why write this blogpost?
1. For those who ask about the downsides of working at KA, this is one of ‘em. It is important to point out how often I crave ice cream while at work due to this naming. To those who want to work here, beware the evils of that.
2. Also, we thought the folks at Haagen-Dazs might be amused. Who doesn’t like hearing a little kudos from afar?
30 8 / 2012
Earlier this year, Marcia started a lovely tradition to mark the one year anniversary of when she started working at Khan Academy. She gifted each of us our own cactus or succulent, which sit on our desks to bring a little more green and liveliness to our daily routine.
Now it’s a (completely voluntary) tradition to get a little sentimental thinking about how much Khan Academy and the people at Khan Academy mean to us on our individual one year anniversaries. Since Marcia initiated the tradition, we’ve had additional first year anniversary gifts to the team, including magnetic poetry for the fridge in our kitchen, awesome games to play at our weekly board game nights (board games and improv games), and today was a delicious spread from Posh Bagel courtesy our intern, David Hu, who yet again - managed to go way above and beyond. David brilliantly knows how to impress us via our stomachs.
*Side note, it’s been a deliciously bagel filled week, as Beth and Steven, KA’s Co-Deans of Art & History brought Zabar’s on Monday - yep, direct from NYC!
We certainly feel lucky to be here at Khan Academy and humbled and privileged to be trying to make education available for anyone, anywhere.